Porsche 917/20


The 1971 917/20 is one of a kind. According to the minutes of a meeting in Zuffenhausen on 22 June 1970, Porsche makes a plan to develop a “coupé with less drag than current models” for the Le Mans race, though it must produce the same level of downforce. This brief results in the development of a 917 short-tail with a much larger body, nicknamed “Big Bertha”. It is the fourth model of 917 after the long-tail, short-tail and short-tail with side fins, and it combines features from each of these. Measuring 2.21 m across, it is nearly 24 cm wider than the plastic body of the conventional 917; with the track width remaining unchanged, the wheels sit deep back in their arches. The front section is shorter that the new 917 long-tail, but just as flat. It has voluptuous curves that inspire the Porsche Design Studio to paint it pink and illustrate it in the style of a butcher’s chart listing cuts of pork: it quickly becomes known as the “Sow”. The 917/20 becomes the most-photographed entrant at the 1971 Le Mans race, getting to sixth place with Willi Kauhsen and Reinhold Joest in the cockpit before an accident at 3.19 a.m. forces it to retire.

Year: 1971
Engine: 12-cylinder V 180˚
Displacement: 4,907 ccm
Output: 441 kW (600 PS)
Weight: 813 kg
Top speed: 360 km/h

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1971: 917 KH (short-tail)